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February 2020

Driving in Adverse Weather Conditions

So far this winter we have been very lucky -- no large amounts of snow and no icy roadways.  However, adverse weather is not just snow and ice.  Adverse weather also includes rain, hail, sleet, fog, dust, smoke, haze, and wind.  Weather conditions influence how we operate our vehicles.
Most accidents in adverse weather occur because of travelling too fast or poor visibility.  Most times simply reducing your speed and increasing your following distance will allow you to continue travelling in adverse weather.  Sometimes you just have to stop in order to be safe.  Systems base schedules on normal weather conditions, speed limits, and traffic.  If you are running late because of bad weather, stay late.  As a professional driver, there is nothing more important than safety.

What are the hazards of adverse weather?

The major hazards are reduced visibility and traffic congestion.  We cannot see well what is going on around us, and there is more “bunching” up of vehicles since people tend to drive slower in adverse weather conditions.   Always watch what other vehicles are doing, even when you are doing the right things; you may have to react suddenly to their actions.
Another hazard is reduced control/skidding.  Wet road surfaces can reduce traction and double your stopping distance.  Wet roads also increase the chances of the vehicle skidding.  If the vehicle is skidding, then you have lost control of the vehicle.  The last hazard of high winds can cause the vehicle to move out of its lane or make it hard for you to steer the vehicle where you want it to go.

What Can I Do?

In all types of adverse weather reducing your speed, increasing your following distance, and increasing your sight interval will help prevent accidents.   Make sure that you can see far enough ahead to react if necessary.
When driving in rain or driving through standing water make sure that your brakes stay as dry as possible.  Wet brakes can cause skidding or increased braking distance. 
Driving with your low beams on, using your windshield wipers, and watching where the vehicles in front of you are going will help you be better prepared to react quickly to sudden turns or stops.

Safety First is a monthly newsletter published for the City of High Point Transit System employees that focuses on workplace safety issues.

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